Private Members Bills and pavement parking

When  receiving updates on pavement parking from DCC Officers at recent Exeter Highways and Traffic Orders Committee meetings, elected members were told that some of the lack of progress on re-introducing the Exeter Act 1987 was that a Bill was progressing through Parliament. This is what was said at Exeter HATOC when we had our last update, on 10 November 2014:

*82 Parking on footways
The Head of Highways, Capital Development and Waste reported on the Pavement Parking Bill 2014-15 proceeding through Parliament to make provision for the safety, convenience and free movement on pavements of disabled people, older people, people accompanying young children, and other pavement users; to clarify, strengthen and simplify the law relating to parking on pavements in England and Wales; and for connected purposes. It was anticipated that the Bill would also cover inappropriate parking on verges.

What the officer didn’t say was that the Pavement Parking Bill 2014-15 was a Private Members’ Bill, introduced by Martin Horwood MP [LD, Cheltenham].

Although Private Members’ Bills are the same as other Public Bills in that they change the law as it applies to the general population, and so must go through the same set of stages, without the backing of the Government it is less likely that PMB will get through all the stages in time to be an Act, and therefore pass into law.

There are three ways of introducing Private Members’ Bills in the House of Commons: the Ballot, the Ten Minute Rule and Presentation:

1) The Ballot
Ballot Bills have the best chance of becoming law, as they get priority for the limited amount of debating time available. The names of Members applying for a Bill are drawn in a ballot held on the second sitting Thursday of a parliamentary session. Normally, the first seven ballot Bills are most likely to get a day’s debate.

The first reading (formal presentation – no debate) of ballot Bills takes place on the fifth sitting Wednesday of a parliamentary session.

2) Ten Minute Rule
Ten Minute Rule Bills are often an opportunity for Members to voice an opinion on a subject or aspect of existing legislation, rather than a serious attempt to get a Bill passed.

Members make speeches of no more than ten minutes outlining their position, which another Member may oppose in a similar short statement. It is a good opportunity to raise the profile of an issue and to see whether it has support among other Members.

3) Presentation
Any Member may introduce a Bill in this way as long as he or she has previously given notice of their intention to do so. Members formally introduce the title of the Bill but do not speak in support of it – they rarely become law.

As it stands under standing order 14 (9) Private Members’ Bills have precedence over government business on thirteen Fridays in each session – and on the first seven Fridays allotted to Private Members’ Bills, precedence is given to Ballot Bills.

Martin Horwood was voted 20 out of 20 in the 2014 Ballot and his Bill received it’s First Reading in the House of Commons on 02 July 2015 [Hansard 02 July 2014 : Column 900]. As well as allowing for the printing of the Bill [Bill 32], the First Reading also timetabled the Second Reading on Friday 12 September 2015.

Despite appearing on the Order Paper on 12 September 2015, and some subsequent Fridays, there was no guaranteed time to debate the Bill and it fell when Parliament was dissolved on Monday 30 March 2015.

That’s not the end of the story as the 2015 Ballot for Private Members’ Bills took place on 04 June 2015. Coming in at number 10 of the 20 successful MPs was Simon Hoare MP [CON, North Dorset]. He is sponsoring Pavement Parking (Protection of Vulnerable Pedestrians) Bill 2015-16.

This Bill received its First Reading on 24 June 2015 [Hansard 24 June 2014 : Column 905] where it was resolved that
Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 4 December, and to be printed (Bill 16).

I hope this makes more progress than Martin Horwood’s Private Members’ Bill.

Further Reading:
James White: Parking Attitudes Survey 2013 – An independent survey uncovering the attitudes of drivers in the UK towards parking on pavements [Guide Dogs, January 2013]

Cover of Guide Dog's Parking Attitudes Survey 2013
Cover of Guide Dog’s Parking Attitudes Survey 2013